While I have never felt a strong affinity with Julian Assange's international efforts to uncover the supposedly deep dark secrets of national governments far and wide, his story, as told by David Leigh of the Guardian, makes for a very compelling and powerful read. This young, boyish Australian activist's view that all information - political, economic or social - is ultimately the property of the people has led to the creation of a new and very influential organization named WikiLeaks, dedicated to rooting out and disseminating government intelligence. Leigh traces Assange's crusade from his early student days as a disaffected, footloose and bored hacker to years later when he became a focused promoter of a brand of anarchic democracy. As a self-taught computer geek, Assange hung out with those who enjoyed the thrill of breaking into and discovering the forbidden troves of secret intelligence. When hundreds of thousands of diplomatic dispatches from American embassies from around the world suddenly became available, WikiLeaks came of age. The reader is treated to a comprehensive and colorful review of the key events that brought the quirky Assange and other personalities like Private Manning - a disgruntled military intelligence analyst - together in a working arrangement with the Guardian for release of the documents. Leigh puts a lot of effort into assessing the impact of these releases with respect to geopolitics and American military in war zones like Afghanistan and Iraq. While some of the information is sensational, most of it involved low-level diplomatic 'pillow talk' or stuff well known already. There were some parts, however, that revealed growing destabilization and corruption in Russia and North Africa.Read more ›
Was this review helpful to you?
A Guardian journalist has negligently disclosed top secret WikiLeaks' decryption passwords to hundreds of thousands of unredacted unpublished US diplomatic cables.
Knowledge of the Guardian disclosure has spread privately over several months but reached critical mass last week. The unpublished WikiLeaks' material includes over 100,000 classified unredacted cables that were being analyzed, in parts, by over 50 media and human rights organizations from around the world.
For the past month WikiLeaks has been in the unenviable position of not being able to comment on what has happened, since to do so would be to draw attention to the decryption passwords in the Guardian book. Now that the connection has been made public by others we can explain what happened and what we intend to do.
WikiLeaks has commenced pre-litigation action against the Guardian and an individual in Germany who was distributing the Guardian passwords for personal gain.
Over the past nine months, WikiLeaks has been releasing US diplomatic cables according to a carefully laid out plan to stimulate profound changes. A number of human rights groups, including Amnesty International, believe that the co-ordinated release of the cables contributed to triggering the Arab Spring. By forming partnerships with over 90 other media and human rights organizations WikiLeaks has been laying the ground for positive political change all over the world.
The WikiLeaks method involves a sophisticated procedure of packaging leaked US diplomatic cables up into country groups or themes, such as 'resources corruption', and providing it to those organizations that agreed to do the most research in exchange for time-limited exclusivity.Read more ›
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
76 of 95 people found the following review helpful
saying more about the media world than the subjectFeb. 13 2011
- Published on Amazon.com
As a member of the public who is following the Wikileaks drama (disinterested, but not dispassionate), I would like to say a few words about The Guardian journalists writings on Assange.
What one notices immediately is the general tone of these writings, not only devoid of any sympathy for the subject, but frankly bilious. Leaving you with an unpleasant taste in your mouth, this tone makes you slightly suspicious as for the authors' motivations and impartiality. It would also disappoint anyone hoping to get an insight into the "enigmatic" Wikileak's founder's human qualities. In fact, the way Julian Assange is presented throughout the book is not as a human at all, but rather as some exotic animal who needs to be constantly "managed" (and is now caged and can be poked at safely). Those few little human interest details about his childhood and youth included in the book can be easily searched for on the Internet (where the authors probably found them).
More than characterising its subject, this book characterises the media world. You do not get any sense of gratitude or recognition from The Guardian for Wikileaks giving it the biggest news stories of the last few decades, on a scale unimaginable to the Guardian's team of "investigative journalists". (Taking on Jonathan Aitken is not quite the same as taking on the Pentagon and the US government). There is no gratitude either for Julian Assange's hard work in taking the physical risks and psychological pressure for getting those news stories out. There is no sense of solidarity with Wikileaks, the organisation that essentially is serving the same purpose as any good newspaper should serve: getting the truth out.
This book is in line with some of the Guardian's previous publications on Assange, such as the leaked details of the rape accusations, carefully selected for their graphic impact. As well as smacking badly of vindictiveness, that publication was well in line with the good old English tabloid media tradition of hypocritical voyeurism, where one is meant to shudder in horror ("Why, isn't this awful, dear?!") while indulging in minute investigation of someone's sexual (mis)behaviour. The editors' claims that it was the paper's duty to publish such material once it came into their hands is risible and will not deceive anyone.
No doubt I am being naïve here, but I cannot help but cringe at the violation of one of the basic school playground rules of fair play: you don't kick your mate when he is down. Not even a former mate.
36 of 44 people found the following review helpful
Exploiting the Info, Selling Out the ProviderMay 7 2011
- Published on Amazon.com
David Leigh for anyone who has followed the Wikileaks story is someone who has in rather despicable fashion exploited the mass of information provided by Julian Assange and Wikileaks for his personal and his newspaper's gain, while at the same time being very instrumental in denigrating both Assange, Wikileaks and indirectly (IF he is the source) Bradley Manning. For people who want a more truthful account follow the articles by Israel Shamir in "CounterPunch" for instance. Leigh like his fellow manipulator, exploiter, and denigrator, NYT editor Bill Keller, loves profiting from the information provided (at great personal risk, and with almost heroic efforts in the face of vicious, totalitarian, no-holds-barred persecution by authorities in the US Empire and its proconsular hangers on the EU and other countries, by Assange and Wikileaks). This book is simply the product of an author who started with those goals in mind. So it is nothing resembling either a true, fair, balanced, or factual account. It is an extended smear intended to benefit Leigh and the "Guardian" while selling Assange and Wikileaks down the river. Read John Pilger's assessments and accounts of David Leigh and this book as well to get a better idea of what is going on. Daniel Domscheit Berg is another similar sort of individual who has smeared Wikileaks and Assange with the same goal of pursuing personal profit and 'glory' at the expense of the group's enterprise. Finally do NOT purchase the book from this site in any case, since they also were totally complicit in the totalitarian witch-hunt against Assange and Wikileaks, denying them hosting services, and therefore (like the financial companies) basically voluntarily acting in the illegal ways the US Empire requested of them.
9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
WikihypocrisySept. 28 2011
- Published on Amazon.com
This is a self-congratulatory book by two Guardian journalists about the biggest leak of confidential government information in history brought about by two oddballs, an Australian called Julian Assange and an American serviceman called Bradley Manning.
These two characters managed to exploit the incompetence or complacency of the US military establishment by downloading hundreds of thousands of "secret" diplomatic messages onto pen drives and then publishing them on Assange's Wikileaks site and, in edited form, in some of the world's most famous publications, including the Guardian, NYT, Le Monde, Spiegel etc.
It certainly was an amazing feat and caused not only lots of problems for the American government but also for the journalists who found themselves confronted with the scoop of scoops.
There was so much information available that were they were not only unable to check its veracity but they did not have the resources to filter through it all and make sense of it for readers.
They also had to deal with Assange - who comes over as being a lot smarter than them - who has them dancing to his tune.
In the end, the Guardian - and the other papers - got their "scoops" and patted themselves on the back for exposing information that they, Assange and 22-year-old Manning (the "innocent" victim who is currently in prison unlike any of the others) felt the public should have.
The writers brush aside any idea that by publishing this information, they put anyone in danger. The Guardian editor claims that six months after the leaks "the sky has not fallen in".
I presume this means he believes no individuals in places like the Middle East have been identified and targeted as a result. That is something he and his conscience will have deal with.
His response to this criticism is so feeble as to be laughable, viz. that some entity should "fund some rigorous research by a serious academic institution about the balance between harms and benefits".
Will the Guardian be footing the bill for this "rigorous research"? I doubt it. Even if it did, no-one would take its findings seriously.
Maybe he is right and no-one was hurt but that sounds like wishful thinking.
Perhaps when the next megaleak of messages is published, we might learn that some people were identified and have suffered for speaking to US diplomats.
The book is marked by the anti-US sentiment one should expect from the Guardian. It is also spoiled by the fact that one of the writers - David Leigh - is presented in the third person as a character, as is the Guardian editor.
It must be great fun editing what you have written about yourself.
In conclusion, the very nature of the subject means that there are pages and pages of dull IT-type material on hackers and computer nerds that the general reader should skip. It is obvious that even the writers do not quite know what they are talking about.
The book is also spoiled by an appendix of almost 100 pages of selected leaks with headlines like "Maintaining P3 and P5 Unity" that are of no interest to the general reader and could have been presented as links if the writers thought they were so important.
12 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Not an Authoritative Account, but a Lively Read, with More Insight Than the Authors Intended.March 9 2011
- Published on Amazon.com
"Wikileaks: Inside Julian Assange's War on Secrecy" is The Guardian's contribution to the narrative of Wikileaks that has emerged in the popular press since the release of "Cablegate" in December 2010. It is written primarily by The Guardian's investigations editor David Leigh and journalist Luke Harding, with a reasoned introduction by editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger. Leigh claims that he and Harding wrote the book in 3 weeks, which makes them officially hacks, with all the breathless hyperbole and looseness with fact that the term implies. But I'm impressed. This is a page-turner and a very readable account of The Guardian's collaboration with Wikileaks and 4 other news agencies on the release of the Afghan and Iraq War Logs and the US State Department cables in 2010.
The authors begin with some background: sympathetic chapters on Pfc. Bradley Manning, who is alleged to have leaked the data from the United States' SIPRNet, Julian Assange, and the evolution of Wikileaks, from the organization's first coup in 2007, when it published a report on Daniel Arap Moi's corruption in Kenya. Then it is to Norway, March 2010, when The Guardian had its first face-to-face contact with Assange. He showed David Leigh the Apache helicopter video that would later be known as "Collateral Murder". There is an exciting account of Nick Davies' meeting with Assange that produced the collaboration between Wikileaks, The Guardian, and, ultimately, other news agencies, leading to the global furor we are still experiencing 4 months after Cablegate.
There is a chapter on the incidents in Sweden that led to Julian Assange being pursued on suspicion of sex crimes, followed by The Guardian's version of the dispute that occurred between the paper and Assange when The Guardian received a second copy of the State Department cables from another source. Those 2 chapters stand out from the rest of the book in their tone and apparent purpose, but more on that later. Finally, there is a dramatic account of the amazing collaboration between The Guardian, Der Spiegel, Le Monde, El Pais, The New York Times, and Wikileaks, a Herculean effort that the authors undoubtedly will not forget any time soon. I still detect residual adrenaline from the (botched) coordination of the release on 28 November.
Any account of the Wikileaks saga begs the question: Should we accept this version as authoritative? The short answer is: No. "Wikileaks: Inside Julian Assange's War on Secrecy" is, first and foremost, a puff piece for The Guardian. Its goal is to cast that organization, its journalists, and its use of material supplied by Wikileaks in the best light possible. The book excels when it conveys the awe and excitement of the journalists in working with such an enormous cache of data in ways they had never before experienced. It's a little sloppy around the edges. There are some factual inaccuracies (e.g. the repeated assertion that Pfc. Manning had access to "top secret" information) and some misquotes, though I didn't find any that changed the meaning of the statement.
The chapters about Sweden and the dispute with Julian Assange over the publication of Cablegate are unique in that they are malicious toward Assange. The rest of the book is not. In fact, it paints a picture of Assange as an eccentric polymath and an astute strategist that is by no means unflattering. I obviously could not say what went on between Assange and The Guardian on the day he allegedly threatened to sue, but the authors omit the existence of a written agreement between them, in the form of a letter, I believe. And they quote extensively from the meeting without, I assume, the benefit of a recording. The purpose of the chapter entitled "Uneasy Partners" is to assert The Guardian's version of disputed events -at the expense of the other party, naturally.
The chapter on Sweden, entitled "The World's Most Famous Man", is sleazier and more complicated. The authors put a spin on events as recounted by the two Swedish complainants that does not exist in their statements to police. They accept the women's statements as gospel but never fail to preface any statement that would favor Assange with "Assange's lawyers claim", when his lawyers are, in fact, simply quoting witness statements from the Swedish police protocol. Ironically, by the authors' own account, the woman known as Miss W told two radically different versions of events to different people, but they don't point that out. They glibly dismiss the idea that the women's statements do not imply that any crime was committed, even under Swedish law.
But objectivity is not the authors' purpose. Their book is a compelling contribution to the Wikileaks narrative, not because it is accurate, but because it is an intriguing -and eminently readable- amalgamation of history, hyperbole, drama, self-promotion, self-defense, sensationalism, and name-calling. If I'm not mistaken, the authors malign Assange over his Swedish exploits in order to posit their own rather patronizing views of women as superior to those of the womanizing Australian. How amusing. Picking this book apart for all of its agendas is a project in itself, and one that I hope some historian will eventually undertake. It is valuable for its engaging glimpse behind-the-scenes at the Cablegate release, in particular, but also for capturing the many competing agendas that have developed around the representation of Wikileaks and Julian Assange in the media.
It's 1984 all over again!May 5 2014
- Published on Amazon.com
It would be nice if there was a conclusion but it goes on and on after publishing. one two three